Buffy A. Ryals Public Sector Interview Strayer University September 12, 2010 Public Sector Interview Name: Stephen Brannon Position: Supervisor Organization: Michigan Department of Correction Role: To supervise employees to ensure they are providing the public with safety. I selected Stephen Brannon to interview for my Public Sector assignment. Mr. Brannon is a supervisor at Michigan Department of Correction-Outer District. This government organization is responsible for providing public safety to the citizens by supervising convicted felons that have been placed on parole/probation for a set term.
Mr. Brannon has been employed by Michigan Department of Correction for over 25 years. He has been a supervisor for the last 17 years. He currently supervises 14 employees. His primary responsibility is to correct and sign warrants that are prepared by the Parole/Probation Officers, make recommendations, deciding the consequences for felons that are not in compliance with their court ordered Parole/Probation terms. Additionally, Mr. Brannon is responsible for assisting in arrests and contacting other jurisdictions when applicable for felons that may have warrants in those jurisdictions.
Mr. Brannon and I met for a face-to-face interview on September 7, 2010. The four topics that I selected to discuss with Mr. Brannon were taken from Chapters 6-9, as I found them to be applicable to Mr. Brannon’s organization and his role with his organization. I found the interview to be quite interesting and informing. It was amazing to learn that Mr. Brannon’s responses were similar to the course readings. It is my opinion that Mr. Brannon was very forthcoming in his answers and the overall interview was delightful.
It was an experience that I am glad to have. Topic: Sexual Harassment Question 1) Do you believe that it should be the employers responsibility to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace? Mr. Brannon reported that he believes that the employer should be responsible for doing all it can to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Mr. Brannon reported that in his career with Michigan Department of Corrections, he has only witness one employee terminated for this action. I was surprised to learn that the employee was in fact a woman.
Mr. Brannon reported that when someone is accused of sexual harassment, the allege perpetrator is informed of the accusations and the allege victim is removed from their current office and placed in another office pending the outcome of the investigation. The investigation process can be lengthy, depending on the accusation, the seriousness of the issue, as well as the amount of people that may have witnessed any incidents. Mr. Brannon reported that any employee that is found guilty of sexual harassment should be dismissed.
He also stated that he feels that in most cases, employees find attraction in one another and when the relationship goes “sorrow”, problems arise. Mr. Brannon stated that to prevent sexual harassment, he recommends that employees should remain professional and not horseplay with each other, as this cuts down on the drama. He also recommended that if it a person reports sexual harassment and the employer does not or have not done anything to prevent this behavior, the employer should be liable for any damages. Mr. Brannon reported that during New Hire Orientation, each employee is provided a handbook that covers sexual harassment.
He briefly described what is considered to be violations under Sexual Harassment. Mr. Brannon reported that his employer takes sexual harassment very serious and has a zero tolerance for any violators. He reported that referring to someone as “babe” or “sweetheart” can be considered sexual harassment. I was shocked to learn that this could be misconstrued as sexual harassment. In fact, I took a mental note to be mindful when using this phrases. According to Chapter 9, a fundamental part of such effort is a broadly disseminated written statement by management that incorporates the EEOC uidelines. It establishes an administrative procedure for initiating and dealing fairly with complaints. It describes clearly the penalties for violation. Topic: Strikes and Impasse Resolution Question 1) Do you agree with the following statement. Strikes can be survived if contingency plans have been prepared. Why or Why not? When I asked Mr. Brannon to respond to this question, he paused for a few seconds as if he were trying to be sure to not to say anything out of the way. Mr. Brannon reported that in most cases, strikes can be survived if contingency plans have been prepared.
He continued, this only happens when enough time has been taken to prepare. Mr. Brannon reported that in general, strikes become necessary when hasty decisions are made. He reported that when issues occur, people are in such a rush to get on to the next topic of the agenda that decisions are made without thoroughly considering all the facts. He also reported that it is his opinion that when people make decisions they do not consider everyone involved. Mr. Brannon reported that it is illegal for employees of Michigan Department of Correction. He reported that anyone that participates in a strike can be terminated.
Mr. Brannon stated that when employees have concerns, they must report I the union representative and they will address the issue in their meetings. Mr. Brannon reported that an example of being unprepared is furlough days that have been required by the state employees. He reported that it is his opinion that when preparing the budget for the 2009-2010, the government did not consider all the contributing factors such as the releasing of the 1100 prisoners. Mr. Brannon reported that had it planned correctly, employees would not be forced to have furlough days.
He reported that if it was legal for State employees to strike, this would definitely be a time. According to Chapter 7, strikes by private sectors are legal and illegal for public sectors. One reason for strikes being illegal for public sectors is that many public services are essential and the public has no comparable alternatives. Another reason is strikes by public employees are essentially political weapons that give unions an unfair advantage. After reading this in Chapter 7 and comparing it to Mr. Brannon’s response, I can see how this makes sense.
If all the parole/probation officers strike, the public is no longer being provided safety. After all, that is the primary responsibility of their position. Topic: The Federal Experience with Merit Pay Question 1) Does Michigan Department of Correction operate under the Merit Pay system? If yes continue to question 2. In no, skip to question 3. Question 2) Do you find your employees more motivated with this system? Mr. Brannon reported that Michigan Department of Correction does operate under the Merit Pay.
He reported that each employee receives raise referred to as a “Step Increase” every 6 months for the first year and annually each year thereafter until he has reached his final step. Mr. reported that he likes the way the evaluations are completed for the “step increases” because if gives an employee an opportunity to learn what he/she needs to improve to continue employee but automatically receives a step increase regardless to the improvements that are needed. Mr. Brannon reported that each employee probationary period is for duration of 12 months.
He reported that even if the employee does not meet all the expectations of the department, his probationary period can be and generally extended for an additional 6 months. However, the employee continues to receive his merit pay just as those that have successfully completed their probation period within the first 12 months. Mr. Brannon reported that generally employees complete the probationary period successfully within the first 12 months allotted. Mr. Brannon reported that it is his opinion that the Merit Pay is definitely a motivation for a vast majority of the employees.
He reported that the great pay scale is probably the primary reason that most of the employees continue to remain employed with the department. Mr. Brannon reported that in many conversations that he has had with other employees, they reported that the pay scale off sets the high pace environment and helps take the place of the stress. He reported that if the merit pay did not exist, he believes that many employees would not continue employment. Topic: A management approach to Performance Appraisal Question 1) What measurements does Michigan Department of Correction use to ensure employees are performing to the company’s standards?
Question 2) Is there anything you would change about the training to improve an employees evaluation. Mr. Brannon reported that Michigan Department of Correction takes many measurements to ensure that employees are performing to the agency’s standard. Mr. Brannon reported that in addition to the quarterly trainings that employees are required to attend, the department requires supervisor complete monthly audits on each employee’s caseload. This audit includes pulling two to three cases from each employee and if any errors are found, an additional two to three cases are pulled.
If at this point errors are found, the supervisor must complete a full caseload audit. Mr. Brannon reported that although each supervisor is different, he generally makes the corrections and called the employee into his office and together he points out the errors. He also provides his employees with sample sheets on how to complete that particular issue. Mr. Brannon reported that in general he has found that most of the errors are a matter of not closing out the file when new information is inserted into the file. It is a matter of clicking a button. Mr.
Brannon reported that if there were any changes he would make as it relates to providing more training is how the initial training is completed. He believes that employees are not exposed to enough information when completing their initial training. He reported that the department provides 14 days training and this is not enough time to cover all that is needed to be a successful parole/probation officer. Mr. Brannon also reported that the training varies from office to office as well as county to county. He believes this is the primary reason many employees struggle with their caseload when they transfer from one office or county to another.
Mr. Brannon reported that all requirements should the same across the board. Mr. Brannon reported that many of the agents are trained on how to complete short cuts and this is not good. Conclusion My interview with Mr. Brannon was a great experience. He was very comical when responding to the questions. However, he educated me in many areas of the functioning of Michigan Department of Correction as it related to the course readings. I selected Mr. Brannon to participate in the interview because I have had the pleasure of working under his leadership as a former Parole Officer for many years.
Under his leadership, I gained knowledge and strength, just as I did during the interview. Although I was not surprised that Mr. Brannon’s responses corresponded with the information that I reviewed throughout the readings for this course, I was shocked to hear Mr. Brannon refer to some of the samples that we are currently studying. Mr. Brannon made mention of rights and repsonsiblities of employees as well as freedom of speech. Mr. Brannon reported although he has not read anything from “The New Public Personnel Administration”, he has read other books that Nigro and Kellough work has appeared in.